Former school board member seeks seat on Hinesburg Selectboard

To the Editor:

I am announcing my candidacy for the two-year term on the Hinesburg Selectboard. Community involvement has always held great importance in my life. I served on the Hinesburg Community School Board for nearly nine years. After the consolidation of school districts into the Champlain Valley School District, I took a break from elected office. I am ready to contribute again and want to be a member of the board that leads Hinesburg now and into our future.

While I was on the school board, we focused on school culture, student population and budget control. I think my role as a member of the school board played a large part in making Hinesburg Community School one of the best schools in the state. I welcome the opportunity to bring that experience to the Selectboard as we continue to make Hinesburg a great place to live.

The Selectboard often sets the tone and leads the way in charting our community’s path forward.  Here is an outline of some of the things I will advocate if I am elected:

  • Lot 15. Use of Lot 15 must be addressed because it is a major concern for many in our community. Hinesburg does not have much property zoned for commercial use and where that commercial zoning is placed was very deliberate. Lot 15 is zoned for commercial use and as such, it should be used for a commercial purpose. I do not support making it a park. Hinesburg has a number of parks and open spaces already and we should not create another one in the middle of the commercial district. Rather, I want to see resources dedicated to improving our existing parks and open spaces.
  • Vibrant village/rural countryside. The Vision Statement in the 2017 Town Plan calls for enhancing the village area and maintaining Hinesburg’s rural character. That concept requires development in our village, including on Lot 15. We cannot be anti-development in the village area if we want to further this community defined goal. We also need to construct the roads, sidewalks and water and sewer infrastructure necessary to support that development anticipating future capacity, not just meeting existing needs.
  • Affordability. We need to create more housing in Hinesburg, with an ultimate aim to make all types of housing that is affordable. Hinesburg has thrived over the time I’ve lived in town (witness the school population increasing) in part because it is one of the few places in Chittenden County with room for new housing. We must work with developers to attract quality projects that include affordable housing options, public amenities and retail and business services that serve our population.
  • Government efficiencies. The era of town-specific planning and services is over. The world is much more connected today and we need to start planning and coordinating services regionally or at least consider doing it across town lines. For example, we need to address ambulance service and police protection as a community. I believe that there are likely opportunities to collaborate with neighboring communities to supply or receive those and other municipal services.
  • Customer-oriented service. Town government is ultimately a service that we provide to our community. Those services should be oriented to townspeople as customers of those services. We hire professionals to provide many of those services and the Selectboard must provide them the opportunity to perform their duties without interference. At the same time, all town officials – be they employees or members of various boards and commissions – need to convey an attitude of “Let’s see how can we do that.”

I hope that you will support me for Selectboard. Whether you do or don’t, please vote on March 5th or by absentee ballot before then.

Keith Roberts

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